Step Brothers - Lord Steppington

Production: The Alchemist

Lead Single: Step Masters

     

PREVIEW BUY READ REVIEW

Dilated Peoples rhymesayer Evidence and veteran beatsmith The Alchemist have unleashed Lord Steppington, their debut album as Step Brothers.

The 14-track set comes heralded by reader-approved singles "Step Masters" and "Mums in the Garage." Alchemist handles all production on the project, which packs guest appearances by Action Bronson, Blu, Fashawn, Oh No, Roc Marciano, Styles P. and many more.

Lord Steppington, which is available for free stream below, is available in record stores and online retailers via Rhymesayers Entertainment.

DJBooth Album Review


In the center of a dimly lit studio, Evidence lounges on a purple velvet couch, nodding his head to the sinister sounds coming through the speakers. Alchemist has his back turned to him, tinkering with the soundboard, looking like a mad conductor to a digital symphony. Weed smoke wafts throughout the studio, and the walls shiver with each beat of a drum. Styles P and Fashawn sit on an identical couch opposite Evidence, in heated debate about who gets to hop on this particularly menacing beat. Blu is in the corner, quiet and possessed by the music, until he spontaneously spits a rhyme and hijacks the beat for himself. Action Bronson wears a leather apron, and is cooking spaghetti and meatballs in the adjacent kitchen for the whole crew. This must be how Evidence and Alchemist work: a family atmosphere where only trusted affiliates are welcomed. Weed is the entry ticket, and like a mafia, trust and respect are necessary.

Evidence and Alchemist, both hailing from sun soaked Southern California, have had a working relationship since the late '90s, when Alchemist produced tracks for Dilated Peoples, a group of which Evidence was the front man. They’ve been nothing but consistent since, and a full-length album under the name of Step Brothers has been rumored for five years now, finally coming to fruition with 2014’s first great hip-hop release, Lord Steppington.

Chemistry between artists, especially those who team up for a full-length LP is a driving factor for success in a collaboration dominated genre like hip-hop. The mixture of Alchemist beats with Evidence rhymes, though Alchemist does hold down the mic often here as well, is a potent one, and their winning formula is anything but formulaic. More Wins and Dr. Kimble, two of the album’s best tracks, are classic examples of this tandem’s combined talents. The beats hit hard, as Alchemist combines his signature snares with very boom-bap yet musical elements. Nobody handles Alchemist beats quite like Evidence, and his boastful rhymes and laidback yet in your face flow work perfectly.

Elsewhere, the instrumentals range between classic Alchemist tinted soul and a bit of quirk. See Rich Man Play and Banging Sound. Both pair obscure vocal samples with excellent raps from the two maestros, but also from guests Roc Marciano and Fashawn respectively. The album is a perfect balance of feature-less and feature-filled tracks, and the guests, all of whom have collaborated in the past with the pair, fit nicely. Scott Caan, the actor best known as Sgt. Danny from Hawaii Five-O and a former member of Alchemist’s '90s rap outfit, The Whooliganz, shows up on Byron G to rekindle the magic from his days on the mic. Aside from the aforementioned features, Blu, Action Bronson and Styles P all justify their membership into the family on three separate records.

The album’s content is narrow, and while there are certainly no duds here, things do get a bit predictable as the album progresses. However, the constant non-sequiturs and familiar production doesn't take a whole lot away from the overall value of the collection. Fourteen tracks of quality beats and rhymes is hard to come by in today's singles driven music industry, and there’s something to be said for the duo’s consistency.

The crew is all smiles now, as the Step Brothers and the rest of the family wrap things up. Mr. Bronson, with marinara sauce still in his beard, commands the rest to clean up since he cooked. They joke and smoke, like a family celebrating a marriage or a new birth. Evidence slips into his Rod Lavers and walks over to his brother Alchemist, who is doing some last minute mastering. Both smile, knowing they’re unmatched chemistry came through once again, this time being just on a bit larger scale. Blood related or not, they’re family for life.

(By Alec Siegel)

DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins


  Written by Alec Siegel on 01/20/14


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